I found this article in the blog of an attorney I greatly respect, Marta Papa--from St. Louis, Missouri. I am re-posting here because I believe the advice is sound.
Top 10 Tips For Telling Your Children You Are Getting Divorced
February 12th, 2016 by Staff of The Law Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C
TOP TEN TIPS FOR TELLING YOUR CHILDREN YOU ARE
GETTING DIVORCED IN A WAY THAT MOST RESPECTS THEIR NEEDS
HOW CAN MY SPOUSE AND I DIVORCE WITH THE LEAST NEGATIVE IMPACT ON OUR CHILDREN?
Prevent your children from experiencing any of the conflict between you and your spouse. Research shows it is the “conflict” between Mom and Dad that is emotionally damaging to the children; not the divorce itself. So take your conflict outside or to a therapist; don’t let your children see or feel it.
Tell your children the TRUTH about what is happening. You just don’t need to tell them all the specifics or blame yourself or your spouse. Tell them this is a decision you have reached as adults and it has nothing to do with them.
Reassure them they will still have a Mom and Dad who love them dearly.
Explain that you will all continue to be a family; but that Mom and Dad are going to be living in different places.
Reassure them they will have access to both Mom or Dad whenever they want.
Assure them that they did not cause the divorce and they can’t stop the divorce.
Reassure them that they can take whatever they want with them (pet, favorite stuffed animal, toy, etc.) when they move back and forth between Mom and Dad’s houses.
They have the right to continue to love both Mom and Dad and neither of you will be angry that they show affection towards or spend time with the other parent.
Plan together when you are going to tell the children and what you are going to say. Practice your parts aloud in front of each other (i.e. rehearse it aloud) before telling your children.
If you have more than one child, tell them as a group. Do not tell one child and leave it up to him or her to tell their siblings.
This may be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life, so prepare emotionally. It will also be one of the hardest days in your children’s lives so prepare emotionally for their reaction. They might each have different reactions to this news based upon their age and whether they may have already picked up on issues you have been having as Mom and Dad. So make certain that you do not give them this news right before a holiday, final exams or someone’s birthday. The children will handle this event only as well as you handle it. This is not the time for you to break down crying. This is your opportunity for the children to lean on you for emotional support. Make sure you are strong enough to give them that support.